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If you listen to the GoNintendo Podcast or follow us on Patreon, you know I’ve been absolutely raving about Mario vs. Donkey Kong in general, but the soundtrack has been my biggest focus. While the game as a whole has gotten a considerable glow-up from the GBA to Switch, the soundtrack has received an incredible amount of TLC, making it a true pleasure to listen to.

Truth be told, I don’t think enough praise has been heaped on the soundtrack in Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s Switch remake, but thankfully now we can all learn more about how this audio revamp came to be. DigiPen, the first college in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in video game technology and development, has shared a video feature and article talking all about the work that went into Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s soundtrack, and it’s quite an insightful look at some stellar work.

Tacket Brown, the game’s production, engineering and mastering lead, pulled back the curtain on the effort that went into reworking the original game’s soundtrack, and it sounds like it was quite the Frankenstein situation.

You take a composition that is largely recorded with virtual instruments, but you apply a few bespoke, acoustic performances to liven it up. It’s the whole notion of the uncanny valley. When something’s too perfect, the brain knows, but when you add one layer of slight imperfection, it feels way more human. When something’s too perfect, the brain knows, but when you add one layer of slight imperfection, it feels way more human.

[Tacket Brown, production, engineering and mastering lead]

It’s very true that the marriage of synthesized and real-life instruments in this soundtrack make for a fantastic audio experience. This is of course due to Lawrence Schwedler, who not only composed the tunes in the GBA original, but also spearheaded the Switch remake as well. Schwedler also worked with Bruce Stark to add onto what we heard in the original release, and it’s those fresh elements that give the soundtrack a whole new life.

I would start with Lawrence’s minimal, soundchippy originals, sit in my backyard, and listen to them over and over, trying to flesh them out into what sounded like a Latin jazz ensemble.

[Bruce Stark, Composition, Arrangement]

If you’re eager to learn more about the work that went into Mario Vs. Donkey Kong’s soundtrack, you can read the DigiPen feature here or check out a special video below.

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